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Can Apples grow in the tropics?

Axel
12 years ago

I was wondering if apples could really be grown in the tropics? Now by tropics I donôt mean Florida, but the real tropics like Central America, or Southern India or even Thailand, and not the tropical highlands either, pretty much at sea level up to maybe 300 meters/1000 feet max. A typical tropical climate consists of a warm dry season and a warm wet season, with temperatures typically above 68F/20C all the time, so there is absolutely zero chill.

I know Dorsett Golden comes out of the Bahamas, but the Bahamas do get occasional cold blasts. Both Anna and Dorsett Golden are known to set multiple crops a year in California, and the quality of these apples is exceptional. But I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that an apple would do well in a truly tropical climate.

I came across this blog from a woman in Jamaica that was actually trying to grow apples from Gala seeds: See The Coconut Chronicles.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I know applenut has blown out of the window most conventional ideas about apples needing high chill.

Comments (76)

  • applenut_gw
    8 years ago

    Night nurse;

    You can Google "Growing Apples in the Tropics".

  • SpiceIslander
    7 years ago

    I understand that Trinidad is growing Anna and Dorset Golden successfully. I have a phone number that was published in one of the newspapers a couple of years ago for people to order trees.

    Brato, I also live in Grenada and would love to talk to you about your apple trees. I know that there are also a few people here growing strawberries successfully.

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  • brato
    7 years ago

    SpiceIslander that's very interesting news, someone has promised to send me some sion wood of Anna and Dorset Golden, If they make good on that promise then I might be growing them here also. And I also grow strawberries and many other exotic fruits.

    But if possible can we pursue the option in Trinidad?

  • vivinreal2
    7 years ago

    ok.i have read a few post here, I from the Caribbean ,Guyana ,i have a apple tree that is about 3ft tall and I would like to know what good advise you guys can give on the growing methods.

  • kemewe
    7 years ago

    Hi everyone, I'm in Nigeria and I've been able to sprout five different varieties of apple and they are growing fine but the problem is that I don't even know their names. And i want to ask since they of different varieties will they bear fruits? please your suggestions will be appreciated.

  • Elifius William
    7 years ago

    i am living in Grenada at present and have a few trees growing 4 potted and 2 in ground. the in ground ones were slow to grow. i have cut back all but one. one of the trees in a 5 gallon bucket seems have caught something i also think its time to plant it out. 3 trees are in their third year and the other 3 second year. 2 of the 1 year old trees seem to be doing great guess the potting mix i whipped up was good. i have been doing lots of reading these pass few months and now realize the the mistakes i have made. like cutting back/pruning the young trees. so i am going give it a go again with 10 seeds planted, all sprouting hopefully i will get at least 6 to go on to be trees. i will see this trough with luck i hope to get a sweet fruit to eat or a fruit on the sour side to make juice :-)

    This post was edited by elifill on Wed, Oct 8, 14 at 20:29

  • VonCleo
    7 years ago

    i have grown two apples and they are growing well here in the philippines.

  • lala_e
    7 years ago

    Hi Kemewe,

    Did you sprout them from seed? Unfortunately apple trees grown from seeds don't produce fruit that is exactly like the fruit you in which you found them. The fruit will be a hybrid of the tree it grew on & it's pollinator and may not be good to eat. If you want a particular apple, you need to get a grafted tree or try to source a cutting and graft it onto your seedlings.

    I also wanted to post my experience re the quote from a previous poster:

    "Apples needs minimum of 400 chill hours just like apricot. So you can not grow apple or apricot or peach. We can not grow Mango or Guava or dates. That is the nature law."

    I'm in the Highveld region of South Africa, north of Johannesburg. It's more temperate, not tropical, but it doesn't get extremely cold in winter. We grow a variety of tropical & deciduous fruit successfully. Just amongst my own, my in-laws & my parents' gardens we have apples, bananas, peaches, nectarine, figs, citrus, litchi, mango, avocado, grape, blackberries, raspberries, Cape gooseberries (weed in my garden), pomegranate etc. I'm growing an apricot variety called "Cape Early" for the first time, so I can't vouch for it's fruiting just yet.

    We are fortunate in South Africa to have the Agricultural Research Council, which has developed many varieties of fruit for our climate over several decades. I say if you have the time, energy & space, it doesn't hurt to experiment with what you can grow in your area.

  • lala_e
    7 years ago

    Ps - Applenut, I spent several hours on your blog last week reading about the apple nurseries in equatorial Africa. You are doing The Lord's work. Someone should film a documentary about it, starting from your orchard in the US to the little farms in Africa.

  • Matt_z6b-7a_Maryland
    6 years ago

    I wanted to echo that Kuffel Creek has great recommendations for apple varieties suitable for tropical climates:

    Here is a link that might be useful: More info here

  • msdm1914
    6 years ago

    I plant this apple tree in the summer of this year in Jamaica,hoping to see some flowers soon. This is a graft tree i took with me from the UK.

  • applenut_gw
    6 years ago

    This is in Kitwe, Zambia, East Africa. He said that Fuji is doing really well for him also, as is King David. Hunge and Mollie's Delicious also do well there.

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago

    i have a few apple trees growing from seed. those i transplanted into the garden have not done as well as i imagined them to but i am watching and learning. i have 2 plants in 5 gallon buckets these are a year younger but doing much better. have been doing a lot of reading on apple tree growing and have notice that i made many errors with the trees i have growing now. so i have started new seedlings and will put to practice what i have learnt.want to grow my own dessert/table apple and name it :-) could happen ...

    This post was edited by elifill on Sat, Nov 22, 14 at 7:17

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago

    my new seedlings. the plan is to grow them as quickly as possible for two years in a five gallon bucket, no pruning, no training,no growth checks,and a strict fertilizer program. after 2 years i plan on using defoliation and restricting/limiting water during the dry season in an effort to induce flowering.my hope is to get trees to flower in their fifth year

  • brato
    6 years ago

    Hey guys I've been off for a while great to see all the new post, my plants are still going strong, oldest would be 3 years in April, I found a link of that apple tree that fruited here in Grenada, link below.

    https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10151056358078905

    I have no flowers yet my largest tree being about 7 feet tall long and whippy. Anyone wishes to contact me can email me at brato_00@hotmail.com pictures coming soon.

  • brato
    6 years ago

    Here's a pic of a plant nearly 3 years old.

  • brato
    6 years ago

    More Pictures I took this morning, I think my plant is way over 7feet tall I used a spade as reference in one of the photos.

  • applenut_gw
    6 years ago

    Brato;

    Cut off that side branch near the base by the shovel head, use string to pull the side branches horizontal, Cut the top off at about six feet, strip the leaves off by hand, and when it starts pushing growth, use a hacksaw blade to notch above every side bud that you want a branch to grow from. As they grow out, use toothpicks to push the crotch angle down so you can train them horizontally also; this will control the whippyness.

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago

    Brato,

    your tree looks great. i have a 3 trees that are 3years old but they dont look as good. guess i have not been treating them well. after this last flush of leaves i am planing to strip the leaves and do some pruning. have 2 tress that are over a year which are plant in 5 gallon buckets they look more grown and healthy than those in ground.will put up some pics . read that notching is effective after the fourth year of juvenile growth that is if it flower and fruit bud you desire the book was not written for tropical climate so i guess it up to you. i am always willing to experiment so i will do the notching as applenut suggested on the biggest of my 3 year old trees thou it is only 4 feet tall. all the best with your tree

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago

    Brato,

    your tree looks great. i have a 3 trees that are 3years old but they dont look as good. guess i have not been treating them well. after this last flush of leaves i am planing to strip the leaves and do some pruning. have 2 tress that are over a year which are plant in 5 gallon buckets they look more grown and healthy than those in ground.will put up some pics . read that notching is effective after the fourth year of juvenile growth that is if it flower and fruit bud you desire the book was not written for tropical climate so i guess it up to you. i am always willing to experiment so i will do the notching as applenut suggested on the biggest of my 3 year old trees thou it is only 4 feet tall. all the best with your tree

  • Keisha Mc Donald
    6 years ago

    Hi guys,

    I'm Keisha from Trinidad and I'm on my second attempt to growing an apple tree. The first was going good until heavy wind and rain threw it over last year, it was a granny smith.

    However, with much joy and anticipation, I'm growing a pink lady in a 5 gallon bucket and she's doing well. She's only 2 mths old, has 10 leaves and approximately 4 feet tall. I have seen much videos, done much reading and followed much conversations and feedbacks. In the end, I have decided to apply my knowledge, wisdom, faith and much needed prayers, lol... And let God do the rest and it's working. I've also grown strawberries and now sprouting some blueberries... Good luck and God's blessings to all...


  • Michelle Sampson
    6 years ago

    Good Morning... I live in the country of Belize in Central America.. two weeks ago my brother was eating and apple and notice the that seeds had sprout. being that i love to plant anything he gave it to me and i placed it in the bed of a plant that i had. this is it. my question.. what do i do to make sure that it is fruitful? will it grow in the tropics? how do I maintain it? need urgent help. i dont think an apple tree has ever been grown here. my first attempt.

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    update on my seedlings, in 5 gallon buckets these i made the mistake of pruning to soon, none the less they did better than those i have in ground... had a few problems with crickets...will be planting these out a month or so into the raining season

    this next tree i am going to keep in the 5 gallon bucket another year, its in its 3rd year and i really like its broad leaves, will be preparing a lovely planting hole for it full of compost,sea weed, charcoal and more good stuff.... want to see what apple comes out from it good or bad this one has me excited. its a little over 5 feet

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago

    Planted out 2 of the trees I had in 5 gal buckets

    growing apples from seed · More Info


    growing apples from seed · More Info


    growing apples from seed · More Info

    Tied down the side branches to encourage apical growth

  • Elifius William
    6 years ago


    growing apples from seed · More Info


    growing apples from seed · More Info

    one of my tress stem started rotting at ground level, to save it i cut it down and took cuttings. they seem to have taken quite nicely. fingers still crossed


  • Lisa Robinson
    6 years ago

    I read some of these, and didn't see this about seedling trees. Yes, each apple seed will make a new and unique apple tree, but they also could become the one that is the new variety that will take off in the tropics. Granny Smith was such a tree, a seed that grew up into a new and useful variety. When Johnny Appleseed was planting trees across America, he used seeds because they were meant for cider. Cider apples are often tart, have a lot of bitterness or tannins. If your seedling grows up like that try making cider.

  • kvanvun
    5 years ago

    I am form Barbados and I have been work on a project for the last 3yrs growing imported fruits. I have 2 nectarine trees about 6 ft tall, an apple tree which is 5ft tall and is grafted and about 30 other trees ranging from 1-2yrs which consist of Golden delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala .I also have Bing Cherries, Au jou Pears ,Bosc Pears, Black Beauty Plums, Friar Plums. Apricots and Strawberries. I love growing plant and researching how best to make them adoptable to the tropics I will post some photos and keep you all up to date if they can be grown in Africa then they can be grown in the Caribbean and I will prove it.

  • parker25mv
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I really am not sure, but I suspect that without the tree ever getting adequate chill it will take far longer before the young tree ever begins producing fruit. And you probably will not get very much fruit.

    I know for climate zones that persistently get inadequate chill every year, the fruit production may be off and on, fruit one year and no fruit the next. But I am not sure if this applies in climate zones that get no chill whatsoever.

  • Elifius William
    5 years ago

    kvanvun how about postiing some pics

  • Camillo Alexis
    5 years ago

    This is what my tree looks like now, I have taken @applenut_gw advice and in addition to that i stripped all of the leaves.


  • Camillo Alexis
    5 years ago

  • Fascist_Nation
    5 years ago

    Looks good. I just stripped off my leaves a week ago. Pretty much they were only remaining on the tips of the branches.

  • parker25mv
    5 years ago

    kvanvun, getting a little off-topic but how are those Bing cherries doing in Barbados??

    To add some more information into this discussion, the latest reports have shown that apples tend to be more adaptable to lower-chill areas than was previously thought. A field test by Tom Spellman of Dave Wilson Nursery showed that several apple varieties rated for 800 chill hours can grow just fine in coastal Southern California (which only gets 50-100 real chill hours). But I will just point out here that the results might have had something to do with the fact that the coastal influence has a moderating effect on temperature, and in the winter it rarely ever gets above 65 F in this region, higher temperatures being very detrimental to effective chill accumulation. In other words, the same moderating influence that prevents there from ever being any chill hours below 45 F may be, paradoxically, the same influence that allows the trees to grow well even in the absence of chill hours below 45 F.

    In the tropics I am not so sure. Are seasonal temperatures (in the coldest 2 months) going to have many days above 75 F ? If so, I do not believe the plant will be able to have any effective chill accumulation like in coastal California. So Tom Spellman's field test may not have as much (or any) relevance to those of you in the tropics.

  • Keisha Mc Donald
    5 years ago
    • By the way guys, for those who don't know, I live in Trinidad West Indies.
  • Bryan Poulter
    5 years ago

    Hello All. I've enjoyed reading this discussion and it's possible that I overlooked the answer to my question but I'll ask anyway :-)
    I am retiring soon to Panama in the high country 6,000+ ft elevation where the temps are a consistent 68-80 daytime and 50-60 nighttime year round. The soil is dark rich sandy loam and water is abundant. Apples are not common there and I'd like to give it a shot at growing something I can special market. Any suggestions on a variety to try given the climate and elevation? Thanks.

  • Bryan Poulter
    5 years ago

    kvanvun, I'm also interested in how your apples are developing. At what elevation are you situated? Looks like the highest elevation in Barbados is 1000 ft. You are growing some very popular and attractive varieties and I'd like to know more about your results.

  • Elifius William
    5 years ago


    lone survivor, it's last ordeal was an attack by a goat. had to prune back, mulc · More Info
    lone survivor, it's last ordeal was an attack by a goat. had to prune back, mulch and water now it's on the bounce back. it's in the third year of growth and the stem is a little less than 1/2inch and at present it's little shy of 4 feet. the goal is to get it to as close as 4 inch stem and 12 feet high in 2 years time.

  • Fascist_Nation
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Bryan Poulter, sounds like paradise. I don't think altitude will be an issue. More oxygen as well nearer the equator.
    http://www.welshmountaincider.com/index.php/grow-apples-pears/high-altitude-apple-orchards

    http://articles.extension.org/pages/41428/what-fruit-trees-will-grow-and-produce-at-an-8400-foot-elevation-in-colorado

    http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1162/

    Unlike those articles, it does not freeze where you are at. The fact
    you have good vegetation at that altitude and mild temps year round, and
    I assume good rainfall and moisture from the vegetation description.
    This latter may breed diseases and pests, but since growing apples is not
    heard of (?) in this region they are not yet adapted to apple
    predation.

    Well draining soils helps a lot as well. Hard to say what rootstock to
    recommend. I'd probably start out with M111, unless you wanted a high
    density trellised system of dwarfs for rapid production.

    I would think many low chill apple cultivars would do well. Plenty of
    recommended candidates at above links in this thread (not this post). Whether you will need to
    encourage fruiting via heading and branch bending or not will remain to
    be seen. I suspect it won't be needed. May have to strip leaves in
    December to mimic a dormant period. The lack of a cold period will
    likely mean some apple cultivars will not develop their characteristic
    flavors. So you will have to experiment (scions on a Frankentree can
    promote more rapid trial fruiting with successes grafted onto top worked
    duds).

  • Elifius William
    5 years ago

    hello all will be moving over to St.Lucia soon and will have to start over with my apple growing. Was wondering if anyone knows of any apple root stock supplier that would ship to the Caribbean. thanks much

  • Elifius William
    5 years ago
    my two trees growing in St. Lucia. looking into ordering some scion and grafting onto the bigger of the two
  • Elifius William
    5 years ago
    my two trees growing in St. Lucia. looking into ordering some scion and grafting onto the bigger of the two
  • Andria Powell
    5 years ago

    I have a Jamaican Apple seed that I want to plant in Georgia, USA I don't know how to go about it. Any help would be appreciated. I would like to grow the apple tree on our farm and have it bear fruit. Here is a picture of the seed.

  • Camillo Alexis
    4 years ago

    am the same person titled Brato i forgot my old password, one of my apple trees now have flowers

  • ktmitch2276
    4 years ago

    Hi love this post, keep it coming. Here's a crazy question anyone considered some sort of chilled grow room instead of a greenhouse a coldhouse to simulate chilling hours. The link is a grow tent (https://www.gorillagrowtent.com/) may be costly for us hobbyist but commercially.

  • nightnurse21
    4 years ago


    kvanvun would love to see photos,in Barbados also


  • William Mullarkey
    last year

    went to a shop in st Lucia and payed for and eat an apple. planted the seed and it sprouted. grew to about 3 cm tall then died. so sad